The best lessons stay relevant forever. As an aspiring software engineer, I learned about Larry Constanine’s rules of low coupling and high cohesion and they would remain guiding design principles for decades to come. Alan Kay developed one of the greatest programming languages ever (Smalltalk), and with it came also the Model-view-controller concept, to this day crucial to any application design. Later, when I turned to architecture and consulting, Christopher Alexander’s ‘A Pattern Language’ – describing 253 building patterns for anything between living rooms and entire cities – struck me as a sheer work of art. In a similar fashion, the 40 principles of invention of TRIZ have an undeniable, timeless quality.
It is the same category that Fred Crawford’s and Ryan Mathews’ model of Consumer Relevancy belongs to. Deceivingly simple, it still proves to be effective every day for organizations in need of a better strategy. In ‘The Myth of Excellence’ the authors describe how an enterprise engages with its customers in potentially 5 different attributes: Price, Service, Ease of Access, Product and Experience. The key lesson is to focus energies on just a few of these attributes, as no enterprise will be able to excel in all areas simultaneously (hence the ‘myth’ of excellence). Depending on their mission and objectives, organizations should choose to dominate in only one of the attributes (for example to have the best products), accompanied by a clear differentiation in one other attribute (say remarkable service). The other ones should be managed to stay at least at-parity with what is acceptable, as they might otherwise turn into negative buying influences.
Consumer Relevancy is – well – more relevant than ever, as proven by the findings of our newly released Digital Shopper Relevancy study. We surveyed 16,000 ‘digital’ shoppers (for this purpose defined as ‘shoppers who use one or more digital technologies or channels in one or more phases of their shopping journey’) across 16 developing and mature markets about their use of different channels and devices for shopping.
The report contains a wealth of useful insights, including a categorization of digital shoppers that ranges from Techno-Shy shoppers and Value Seekers via Rational and Occasional Online Shoppers all the way to Digital Shopaholics and Social Digital Shoppers. It shows that most shoppers are not loyal at all to a specific channel and it is also impossible to predict what channels they will turn to even in the near future, as demonstrated by one interviewed US shopper: “I am not Steve Jobs, so I don’t know what will change” (newsflash: neither did Steve, he just created the change himself).
One thing is for sure: no matter what channels will emerge, shoppers expect a seamless integration between all of them, including online, social media, mobile devices, smart TVs and physical stores. Pretty sure as well: most retailers will thus embrace all of these channels, in order to stay aligned with the quickly evolving needs of their customer base – albeit with remarkable differences, depending on regions, markets, segments and demography -.
So expect a lot of Digital Me Too strategies in the upcoming months and years.
It puts us neatly back to the core lessons of Consumer Relevancy. With the emergence of all-channel shopping, it is good time to re-assess, then re-enforce the strategic positioning towards the 5 relevancy attributes – Price, Service, Ease of Access, Product, Experience – and understand how they can be translated to the new, digital shopping reality.
So whether you are dealing with Techno-Shy, elderly males in Western Europe that only want to buy their DIY articles in the store around the corner or female Digital Shopaholics in Brazil that soon might buy new cloths with just a blink of the eye (Google Glass, anyone?), you can become more relevant to them than ever before.
Digitally relevant, that is.